There is some confusion about the strategic part of community management.
This is how we think about it:
The organization decides the objective. This should fit with the overall strategic goals and mission for the organization. The danger at this stage is the organization doesn’t properly connect the objectives to a measurable ROI metric.
The objective for the community must either increases revenue or reduces costs.
For a community, these objectives will be one of the following.
- Increase repeat purchases (existing audiences spend more)
- Increase customer retention
- Reduce recruitment costs (or hire better staff)
- Reduce marketing costs
- Improve R&D
- Reduce customer service costs (or improve customer service)
- Develop new revenue opportunities
- Internal: Improve productivity
- Internal: Decrease staff turnover
- Non-profit: Fulfilment of mission*
2) Strategy for the organization
This is the important bit, the strategy to achieve one or more of those objectives is to create a community. The community is the strategy. Developing a successful community is what we do.
This is where it gets difficult (and the point Venessa alludes to), the strategy for the organization and the strategy for the community are different. The former is to create a community, the latter is to progress the community through the lifecycle.
The organization measures the ROI of the community against the objectives it’s supposed to achieve. The community manager uses community health metrics.
3) Strategy for the community
The community manager now diagnoses what stage of the community lifecycle the community is in now, then then plots a course to progress to the next stage.
This is important. By progressing a community through the lifecycle you maximise the potential of that community. You ensure the community grows as big as it can possibly be, it’s engaged as members can possibly be, and there is a strong sense of community. It’s the latter two that lead to the desired ROI.
Now we have the strategy, we can develop the tactics.
We can use a framework here:
- Relationship Development
- User Experience
- Business Integration
We need to know what the priority is for each of these elements of the community management role. You can see how the time spent on each changes during each phase of the life cycle.
Specifically, you need to know how you’re going to grow the community, what your moderation goals are, what content you’re going to create, what events/activities you’re going to initiate, who you’re going to build relationships with, how you intend to test and optimize the site, and whether you need to better integrate the community with the organization.
5) Action Plan (calendar)
Finally, you take all the actions listed above and place them into an action plan (or a calendar), which highlights what will be accomplished every day. This is important, it forces you to estimate how much time it will take and allocate resources (and make trade-offs) accordingly).
For organizations, their work ends at point 2, for community managers, their work begins at point 3.